An increasingly popular exotic hardwood, Teak lumber is used for applications as varied as indoor furniture and boat decking. Not all Teak is created equal, though. Quality lumber specialists like J. Gibson McIlvain buy only FEQ teak lumber that has consistent coloration and grain patterns. FEQ, or First European Quality, describes heartwood lumber without cracks, knots, or sapwood. As you might imagine, FEQ teak offers greater workability and durability—as well as a nicer appearance—than lesser grades.
Native to south and southeast Asia, teak can also be grown in Africa and parts of the Caribbean; however, Burma produces about 30% of global teak production. Because of the increasingly elusive old-growth teak, environmental concerns surround the increased consumption of this exotic hardwood. At one time, the timber from old-growth teak was thought to be more durable than that of its plantation-grown counterparts, but that fallacy has been debunked. Plantation teak is now recognized for its striking similarity to old-growth teak in the areas of erosion rate, dimensional stability, warping, and surface checking; the one chief difference is its increased susceptibility to color change due to sun exposure.
The Forest Stewardship council now offers certified teak products that have been sustainably grown and harvested. Most of the teak plantations can be found in Indonesia and controlled by a state-owned forest enterprise. Most of that wood is used to produce outdoor furniture for exportation.
Even though teak is easily worked, its natural oils can cause severe blunting of edged tools. It also contains silica that help protect it from termites and other pests, as well as nature’s sometimes brutal elements. Durable even without additional treatment, teak is often used for exterior doors, window frames, outdoor furniture, and boat decks. With sun exposure, the streaks sometimes apparent in freshly milled teak become less pronounced, allowing the wood’s golden brown beauty can emerge.
In addition to the weather-resistant features of teak, its suitability for boat decks is largely due to its natural non-slip surface. This characteristic is caused by the primary wear to the softer growth bands. One inherent caution is that sanding can be damaging, as a result, as will use of cleaning compounds, oils, or preservatives. The natural oil that is present just below the white surface will preserve the wood much better, on its own. Knowledgeable boat deck owners only wash their decks with salt water, to prevent drying and shrinkage. Salt aids in moisture absorption and retention, while preventing the growth of algae and mildew, alike. By over-maintaining teak, people tend to shorten its lifespan significantly.
Because the silica content comes from the sandy soil in which teak naturally grows, the silica content is much higher in old-growth teak from Southeast Asia. As a result, J. Gibson McIlvain purchases only old-growth teak. In fact, we’re one of the nation’s premier suppliers of FEQ old-growth teak, and we carry the sizes suitable to serve boating industry needs.